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By Sydney Majoko


Sisulu needs to be a good minister before she’s president

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is too busy on the campaign trail to want to explain herself to a parliament that citizens of this country elected.

South Africans allowed a Hollywood star to get under their skin because she joked that the country’s third-most spoken language is a “dying language spoken by 44 people”.

Their reaction to another grave matter just goes to show that the country takes itself too seriously when it shouldn’t – but fails to put on its “serious” face when it should.

The debate on whether citizens must continue to be allowed to keep pit bulls as pets is a case in point. A pet that kills children unprovoked – and people argue they must have a choice on whether to keep such an animal. Maybe the country deserves a wayward Charlize Theron once in a while to knock some perspective into the national discourse.

But the issue that should be getting everyone’s blood boiling is that of a presidential candidate refusing to appear before a parliamentary portfolio committee in her current role as minister of tourism. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has put her hand up to run for the presidency of the ANC, which effectively means she has declared her ambitions to run this country if her bid succeeds and the ANC wins the 2024 national elections.

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But she has not explained why she does not want to present herself to a parliamentary committee to account for how she is running the department. One can only assume that presidential campaign is keeping her too busy to want to explain herself to a parliament that citizens of this country elected.

There are reports that the eThekwini municipality has not applied for the annual Blue Flag status for its beaches for the upcoming year because the floods have caused so much damage and contamination to the seawater. This means that until that problem is solved and the water made safe, the famed Durban beaches are off-limits to tourists.

That is a massive loss for the local economy, especially since the floods and the July 2021 riots practically decimated all other parts of that economy. Sisulu should be pitching up in parliament to explain how her department is going to use its R7-billion budget to help fix things in the tourist segment of eThekwini.

Since she entered the presidential race, Sisulu has been quite combative in her dealings with President Cyril Ramaphosa, to the extent that the president’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, has at one stage felt compelled to defend his principal. To which Sisulu promptly responded that he is “parachuting himself into internal ANC matters”.

Sisulu has, at times, given the impression that she does not want to continue serving in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. And this would not be such a shocking thing because getting herself fired by him on the eve of their ANC presidential election would come with a huge sympathy boost for her at the elective conference. The victim card has been played quite successfully before in ruling party politics.

Deliberately avoiding to go before a parliamentary portfolio committee should also trigger its own punitive process, which Sisulu must be quite aware of. What she needs to remember, though, is that her role as minister of tourism impacts directly on ordinary people’s bottom lines.

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A tourist deciding against going to Durban for the holidays is taking money away from a hotel in Durban. Add the Uber driver and the street vendor selling local wares and the situation becomes worse. Sometimes, the leaders of the ruling party take their eye off the ball because they forget that they have branded themselves warriors against poverty. Sisulu needs to be a good minister before she’s president.